“Whatever comes, remind me of your faithfulness. If it feels like I’m standing alone, remind me you are with me. If I’m reviled, remind me you were too. If I succeed, remind me the victory is yours. And if I don’t, remind me my ultimate victory is found in you. You are faithful. I put my trust in you.” (Renewed, Leigh Powers, pg 95,96)
The past two weeks have been stretching me to the breaking point. I had a few days where I needed to call out for help, but couldn’t. I really dislike thinking like a victim, but it was as though I was bound and gagged and too weak to even try to break free of my bonds. Yuck.
In the midst of all that, I started an app that tracks my moods and experiences and then gives me a summary after two weeks. After a week, I was able to starting thinking about what options I have to helping myself. I started an exercise app that I have been enjoying. It is a short-term type of program, 28 days, and fits in well with my day. I was also able to get back into praying through a bible-based prayer book – so very necessary for dealing with all that is going on around me.
These crazy-uncontrollable, ministry-life experiences teach me the most about faithfulness. God’s faithfulness to me – my need to remain faithful to God – faithfulness to my marriage – faithfulness in my parenting – faithfulness of others towards me and of course, the unfaithfulness of others.
My pastor-husband arranged things so that I could have this past Sunday off. I stayed home with our daughters while our son went with his Dad to church. I was concerned about feeling guilty, but we are clearly in extreme winter conditions (with windchills between -40C – -45C ((and for my lovely Americans, -40C and -40F are the same temperature! It has been crazy-cold up here!). When either temperature or wind chill temp’s are below -20C / -4F, I usually stay home with the kids. It just isn’t worth it if we run into vehicle trouble. I’m relieved to have had a good enough reason to stay home.
Two weeks ago, our DS met with our church board and all that was discussed was the budget. The altercation between the treasurer and my husband was not brought up at all. There are several items that should be discussed, and perhaps they will be in subsequent meetings. The DS hopes to be invited to work through things with our board again. Soon.
In that meeting, the treasurer showed the budget he has worked up. It was obviously inflated. The board chair was doing his best to find ways to cut it down so that the church could prove that it could afford a full-ish time pastor still. (36 hours) The treasurer was shooting down every idea presented. He is determined to get rid of my husband.
The board worked out a budget together that could be used for the budget committee meeting, held this past Thursday.
The treasurer did not use that board-agreed budget, but used his own budget, that was inflated by $5000.
Instead of being discouraged at this news, I was just relieved and thankful that we finally have something in black-and-white that proves his deviousness.
Thankfully the member of the congregation on the budget committee did not sign off on the proposed budget. She is very supportive of us and doesn’t want to see my husband’s salary cut or to see us leave the church. She has gone so far as to say that if we do go, she will leave too.
We’ve never caused a church split before.
It would appear that this is the current challenge for this congregation. As our DS says, we already have a split in the church. There is a definite distinction between the ‘Old Guard’ and those who are committed to being light and life.
So, we continue to pray for church unity, but also for purity.
This coming Thursday will be the Audit Committee meeting. The treasurer is on that committee too. We have another cheerleader on that committee as well, who is also determined to fight for us to stay and will leave if we are pushed out the door.
It is getting to be a more difficult fight for hope in the midst. There is something freeing in dreaming of walking out the door and starting up a church plant… — wanting something fresh and new while surrounded by death and decay. But that isn’t the call right now. Our call is to be light. To be life. To be circulating Christ through all of the hearts that are unblocked and open to Him and to each other and to us. The hard-hearted among us still need us to pray and love and serve as best as we can.
So we are caught in the neutral zone, battle raging around us, engaging the enemy from time to time, and wondering how much worse it will get and if it will ever get better in this particular place or if we will have to desert the mirage of hope/hopelessness in this building and begin a new work in this area with those who are keen to walk in step with the Spirit, with other believers, with us.